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Joe Rogan talks social media microscope, MMA fans and commentary bias

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In this fourth installment of our mega-interview with Joe Rogan, Joe discusses commentary bias, the MMA fan base and the social media microscope's impact on his comedy routine.

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Last month, I interviewed UFC lead commentator and stand-up comedian, Joe Rogan in a year-end review of 2015. Several topics were discussed at length. This particular portion revolves around commentary bias, his understanding of the MMA fan base and the impact social media has had on his comedy routine.

*Note: I started off trying to number these pieces from the interview, but decided to just make them into individual, standalone features, highlighting certain topics. This is the fourth of Five Easy Pieces with Joe Rogan. If you've missed any of the past installments from this amazing interview, you can get them at the following links:

One
Two
Three

When you have a social media following the size of Joe Rogan's, you are essentially put under a microscope by fans and pundits, alike. That scrutiny can change how you engage in friendly conversation and can affect the way you do your job, especially if it's a position that is publicly available, as Joe's is via television, internet or stand-up shows. When asked if being watched and analyzed so closely has much impact on his comedy bits, he replied,

"Yes and no. It's a matter of whether or not you listen to it. There's going to be more people that are upset at you, but there's also going to be more people that laugh at you. You can also explain yourself, which you could never do before.

Say for instance, someone does an article about you and quotes you out of context or takes a quote and abbreviates it-they've basically done something that changes what you were trying to say. With social media, you can explain yourself, instantly. You can go on Facebook, make a Youtube video, and explain yourself; you can speak your mind. You couldn't do that before. In that sense, it makes it easier, because you can justify what you're saying, explain where you're coming from.

Because of social media, you have access to so much more material. You're exposed to so many more stories, ridiculous news items and crazy interactions with people. I think ultimately, social media, as much as it's a microscope that some comedians can find problematic, I think ultimately, it's helping them."

As the conversation turned to fans on the internet, Rogan's appreciation and understanding of their presence became evident once again, despite having come under fire periodically for things he's said during his commentary, on his podcast or via his social media.

"The more fans the better. You're going to have disrespectful fans or people who are mean or who get excited when Ronda loses and create a bunch of memes or stuff like that, but that's just people, you know? It's not a bad thing. It's more energy and excitement. More things are happening.

I think the internet is a massive way for people to communicate; a massive portal for people to share their opinions and talk about things. The more they talk about things, the more they get excited about things and then those things become bigger. That's how it works for MMA.

The UFC wouldn't even be alive today if it hadn't been for the internet. The UFC was on death's door, and the internet kept it alive. The internet fans found a way to communicate about a sport they loved. They found it through places like the Underground and Sherdog. There were a lot of sites that had developed communities, and that's what kept us alive.

To think that somehow it's bad now, because too many people are talking shit...talking shit is normal. It's part of being a person, especially part of being a person and being anonymous. We don't even know how old these people are [laughs]. You might be getting mad at an 11-year-old."

When it comes to commentary, Joe understands the difficulty that lies in being an unbiased disseminator of information, but still constantly strives to achieve balance, and credits MMA fans with helping him achieve that goal.

"I certainly try to be (unbiased). I had this conversation with Cowboy Cerrone. He's like, ‘You can be biased if you like somebody,' and I told Cowboy, ‘Dude, I'm biased for you.' Sometimes fighters will think that you're biased against them, because the other person's won, and they listened to the commentary and think that you were biased.

I should point out that the reason I've gotten better in my commentary is because of criticism from fans on the internet. I appreciate that and in some sense, I owe them for helping me develop as a commentator. That's just a fact. -Joe Rogan

If I were going to be biased, it would be towards friends of mine like Cowboy or Ronda or Mighty Mouse or Ian McCall. Ian McCall is a good friend of mine; I love that dude. I am friends with a lot of these guys and I call their fights, and that could certainly present problems, but if it was really gonna present a problem, it would've been with the Rousey/Holm fight, but I made sure it didn't.

I definitely underestimated Holly in a sense, in that when the fight was first made, I said that I didn't think it was a smart fight on a podcast with Brendan Schaub. I said that Amanda Nunes was a more dangerous fight, based on her fight with Sara McMann, where she just looked like a monster.

As time went on after I said that, I was criticized for saying it. Dana wasn't so happy with it either, because we've got to sell that fight. As time went on, I started considering possibilities. If you take Holly's best fights outside the UFC, and realize that some fighters take sometimes several fights before they adjust and and relax, and then we get to see their true ability inside Octagon. For Holly, when you consider that she didn't begin her professional MMA career until 2011, you understand that she's just now coming into her own and relaxing and settling in.

She also had so much striking experience, and even though it hadn't totally manifested itself inside the Octagon the way it had in smaller organizations, the boxing ring or the kickboxing ring, she still had those hours and those skills, and you could start seeing glimpses of that in her fight with Marion Reneau. Movement, a lot of side-stepping, a lot of power kicks, excellent combinations...she was always doing everything fundamentally very well.

I was starting to think that she might create problems if the fight got into the third and fourth rounds, if they're standing up and if Ronda is slowing down. Then it becomes more about technique. Boy, it turned out way different.

It turned out that right off the bat, Ronda was chasing after her, and as soon as Holly got her feet under her and really got comfortable, she was just lighting Ronda up from the very first minutes of the first round.

I should point out that the reason I've gotten better in my commentary is because of criticism from fans on the internet. I appreciate that and in some sense, I owe them for helping me develop as a commentator. That's just a fact.

Even the people that have said shitty things, if they don't make any sense, they don't hurt. The only time that someone says something about you, the only time those things actually sting, is when they make a good point. You're like, ‘Wow! That guy just made a good point.'"

The final installment from this excellent interview will be transcribed in the coming week, but you can listen to the full audio here or via the embedded player below. Remember, if you're looking for us on SoundCloud or iTunes, we're under the MMA Nation name. Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie HaynesThree Amigos PodcastIain Kidd and Mookie Alexander or our Facebook fan page, Three Amigos Podcast.